Single ‘space rock’ could be worth $800 billion – by Ian Madsen (Troy Media/Sudbury Star – March 13, 2018)

While not literally pie in the sky, asteroid mining used to be science fiction. It’s getting closer to reality. Various private space companies have focused on launching satellites, with hazy side-bets on future colonization ventures. And now, technological advances make mining asteroids a legitimate prospect.

There are millions of asteroids in space, many orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Those closer to Earth tend to be carbon- or silica-based, like Earth’s crust, with only a few containing more valuable minerals.

Some asteroids are iron-based, with other elements. Some scientists speculate that many asteroids contain lucratively high proportions of gold, platinum, rhodium, cobalt and even rarer metals. These are used in electronics, metal alloys, permanent magnets, batteries and electric motors (importantly, the motors of electric vehicles).

Identifying asteroids that have these metals has improved significantly, using radar and infrared detection. If valuable asteroids can be identified, they could be captured and put into an Earth orbit and, eventually, brought safely down to our planet, perhaps in pieces.

A few private companies want to capture these valuable asteroids and are raising the funds from willing investors.

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